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Views and opinions: Unusual pets turned out to be effective sales repellant

I received a phone call from my good friend, Tom Stiers, the other day. Raised together in the small town of Moscow, Ind., we have had many an adventure over the years.

Tom started out, “It seems I have an unusual critter hanging around the house. I’ve never seen anything like it hanging around before. It’s a buzzard.” Sure enough, for a few days, Tom and his wife, Barbara, had been graced by the company of one of our aerial roadkill specialists, a turkey buzzard.

Tom went on to say, “It doesn’t seem to want to fly… it just walks around.” I asked how close he was able to approach the bird, and he said he had ventured as close as 20 feet, but was reluctant to go any closer.

I don’t blame him. Buzzards have a really nasty habit of projectile vomiting at anything they consider threatening. I encountered the nasty means of buzzard self-protection years ago with young buzzards in a barn loft outside of Batesville. However, like Tom, I was wary and didn’t get within range.

Tom asked if the bird should be reported. I told him if it didn’t leave of its own accord in a day or so, he could contact the sheriff’s department, which in turn would contact the local conservation officer. The officer would survey the situation and determine the best course of action.

Buzzards are a state and national protected species, but I can just imagine the reaction of a poor wildlife rehabilitator given a buzzard to recuperate!

Tom’s call concerning the buzzard brought to mind an amusing incident back when I was a boy. Outside of town lived a farming family who raised crops and chickens for meat and eggs. The couple had several rowdy boys who always seemed to be up to something.

Occasionally, a chicken or two would die and the father would have the boys take the carcasses down to the lower pasture, far away from the house. The trip to the pasture became a repeated chore week to week, and soon the pattern of carcass disposal was discovered by a flock of buzzards.

Rather than soar the skies for endless hours looking for roadkill, the buzzards just had to be patient and the weekly deposit of chicken carcasses would be their lunch ticket. The boys soon noticed the buzzards taking advantage of the meadow-side picnic, and they began to hatch a plan.

Along with the next batch of dead chickens, the boys staked out some old, weak spring leg traps among the buzzards’ weekly bounty. Before the end of the day, they had caught several buzzards.

Anticipating success, the boys had already outfitted an old wire corncrib on the edge of the barn lot with a few tall limbs for roosting and a pan of water. The old crib was tall, totally encased with woven wire, and had a latching door on it.

How they accomplished handling the birds, I haven’t a clue. But they were able to release the buzzards unharmed from the traps, stuff them in gunny sacks, bring them to the crib, and release them into their new “Buzzardarium.”

The boys had a method to their madness. Not only were the buzzards unique pets, but now they only had a short walk to carry the chicken carcasses to their new captives.

Everyone seemed to be happy about the situation. The boys had some great and unusual pets, the buzzards acclimated and looked forward to the boys bringing them lunch, and all seemed well for several weeks.

However, buzzards smell … and where buzzards roost smells exceptionally bad. The odiferous, gut-wrenching stench coming from the barn lot was soon noticed by the boys’ mother.

Mom laid down the law: Let the buzzards go.

Reluctantly and with sadness, the boys went to their Buzzardarium and propped the door open so the buzzards could leave. One by one, the birds filed out the door and took flight. They were gone … but not for long and not very far. Having grown accustomed to having their meals delivered, they decided to hang out close to the source, and began to roost on the top of the house and on the clothesline poles along the sidewalk leading to the front door.

The boys were delighted, but their folks were not. They did find the only benefit of having several buzzards roosting on the clothesline poles alongside the sidewalk to the house was it put an immediate end to the bother of door-to-door salesmen.

Man arrested on boat theft charge

Indiana conservation officers arrested a Vincennes (Knox County) man for theft of a boat after receiving information of suspicious behavior. During the investigation it was alleged that Chad W. Taylor, 39, took a boat from the Wabash River during the early morning hours of August 17 without permission of the boat owner.

Later the same morning, two fishermen said they were flagged down by an individual matching the description of Taylor, who said he needed gas. They became suspicious because of the person’s demeanor and lack of knowledge of the boat.

A boat registration was provided, and after talking to the boat owner, it was determined the operator of the boat did not have permission to use the boat. The boat and Taylor were found at a set of river cabins on the White River. Taylor admitted to taking the boat and was booked into the Knox County Jail. The boat was returned to its rightful owner.

DNR firefighters assist with Alaska operations

A total of 20 wildland firefighters comprising employees from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and Department of Homeland Security, The Nature Conservancy, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Parks Service, and Hoosier National Forest recently traveled to Alaska for a 14-day assignment, to assist with wildland fire operations in the Upper Yukon Zone.

The crew was initially assigned to the Hadweenzic River fire within the Cornucopia Complex, then reassigned to the Chandalar River fire. The fires were located near the villages of Fort Yukon and Veneite.

The firefighters worked to remove hoses and water pumps from fire lines as the fires reached containment levels. Due to a lack of road infrastructure, crews, equipment, and supplies were all transported via helicopters or boats.

Patoka Lake special waterfowl hunt dates

Patoka Lake has determined hunt dates for its three waterfowl resting areas for 2019-20. The Sycamore Creek area will remain closed this year to act as a refuge offering the waterfowl a place of little disturbance.

Waters lying east of Walls Boat Ramp, as well as the Allen Creek area, will be open to waterfowl hunting, fishing, trapping, and motorized and non-motorized boat traffic on specified days beginning Nov. 1 and continuing through Feb. 29, 2020.

Patoka Lake lies within the waterfowl hunting Southern Zone. The open dates are:

•Southern Zone – Ducks Regular Season: Nov. 2-3, 30; Dec. 1, 5, 9, 13-14, 18, 22, 27-29; and Jan. 3-4, 8, 11, 14, 18, 22, 25-26

•Southern Zone – Geese Regular Season: Nov. 2-3, 9-10, 13-14, 18-19, 23, 28-30; Dec. 1, 5, 9, 13-14, 18, 22, 27-29; Jan. 3-4, 8, 11, 14, 18, 22, 25-26, 31; and Feb. 1-2, 4, 6, 8-9

Hunters are reminded they are required to use the self-service hunter check stations around Patoka Lake. Hunter check-in cards are to be turned in daily, even if no birds are harvested. Special regulations, state, and federal game stamps and licenses, and nontoxic shot are all required by law to hunt migratory waterfowl. Shooting hours are from one-half hour before sunrise to sunset.

Maps for locations of hunter check stations, maps of the waterfowl resting areas, and other information about Patoka Lake can be found at the Patoka Lake park office. For more information, call 812-685-2464.


The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of Farm World. Readers with questions or comments may contact Jack Spaulding by email at or by writing to him in care of this publication.